This smoked chicken thighs recipe is a staple in our home. The dry rub combined with smoke from the right choice of wood makes this the most flavorful chicken you will every try – no BBQ sauce needed. If you have the time, air drying the chicken with Kosher salt really enhances the flavor of the meat. So stop scrolling and give this recipe a try… you will not be disappointed! As always, if you make this smoked chicken thighs recipe, please let me know how it was in the comments.
Can I use boneless chicken thighs instead of bone-in?
Absolutely! Just note, the cook time should be shorter when using boneless chicken thighs. Also, boneless are usually more expensive which is why I opt for bone-in when possible – I have a family of 7.
What is the best temperature to smoke chicken thighs?
I recommend smoking chicken thighs between 225°F-250°F. This allows the thighs to cook at a good pace while absorbing a lot of smoke flavor.
How can I get crispier skin on smoked chicken thighs?
Air drying the chicken thighs will help evaporate extra moisture, resulting in crispier skin. I also recommend adding a tablespoon of baking powder (not baking soda) to the dry rub. Lastly, you can increase the heat of your smoker to 400°F once the thighs reach an internal temperature of around 120°F. This will still let the meat absorb a nice amount of smoke while ensuring the high heat crisps the skin as much as possible.
How long does it take to smoke chicken thighs?
It typically takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to smoke chicken thighs at a temperature of 225°F to 250°F.
What type of wood should I use for smoking chicken thighs?
Milder woods usually work best; hickory, oak, apple, or cherry wood are popular choices for smoking chicken thighs. Cherry and apple woods will impart a more sweeter smoke into the chicken.
What internal temperature should smoked chicken thighs be cooked to?
Smoked chicken thighs should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to ensure they are fully cooked and safe to eat.
Can I smoke frozen chicken thighs?
It is not recommended to smoke frozen chicken thighs. Thaw the chicken in the refrigerator before smoking to ensure it cooks evenly.
Should I brine chicken thighs before smoking?
Brining can help keep the chicken moist and add flavor, but it is not necessary. If you choose to brine, do so for at least 2-4 hours before smoking using a mixture of water, salt, sugar, and herbs.
How do I store leftover smoked chicken thighs?
Store leftover smoked chicken thighs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Smoked Chicken Thighs
- 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, preferably air chilled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, substitute any other vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons Kosher salt, optional
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika, preferably smoked
- 1 teaspoon dry ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar, substitute coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
Air dry the chicken thighs (optional)
If you have the time, place chicken thighs on a wire rack, sprinkle under and over the skin with Kosher salt, and refrigerate uncovered for 4 hours. This will season the meat and also help the skin become crispier when smoking. I always air dry chicken for the best results!
Preheat the smoker
Preheat smoker to 225°F according to the manufacturer's instructions. Most pellet grills don’t need it, but you can add a pan of water in the corner of the smoker to keep moisture inside. If using a Traeger with the Super Smoke setting, turn it on as well.
Make the rub
In a medium sized bowl, mix together all of the dry rub ingredients.
Prep the chicken
Spread the olive oil evenly over all of the chicken thighs, and then apply an even layer of the seasoning mixture under and over the skin.
Smoke the chicken thighs
Place the chicken thighs in the smoker and smoke at 225°F until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh, approximately 1-1 1/2 hours depending on the size of the chicken. There's no need to wait until they've all reached 165°F; remove each chicken thigh as they finish. I like to push the internal temperature to 175°F since thigh meat can take the heat and it helps crisp up the skin a bit more.
I recommend using an internal meat thermometer to easily keep track of the temperature. Remember, always cook to temperature and not time!
Rest the smoked chicken thighs
Remove the smoked chicken thighs from the smoker and transfer them to a carving board. Tent them loosely with foil and let them rest on the counter for 10-20 minutes. You don't want the foil to touch the skin as this will introduce moisture back into them.
Serve the smoked chicken thighs
Serve the chicken thighs after they've rested for 10-20 minutes. Enjoy the juiciest, most flavorful chicken thighs you've ever had!